Strong 'Spider-Man' demand makes producers smile

Strong 'Spider-Man' demand makes producers smile

Credit: AP

Patrick Page, right, Jennifer Damiano and Reeve Carney appear onstage at the curtain call for the opening night performance of the Broadway musical "Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark� in New York, Tuesday, June 14, 2011. (AP Photo/Charles Sykes)

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by MARK KENNEDY

The Associated Press

Posted on June 27, 2011 at 11:59 PM

NEW YORK (AP) -- The reboot of the "Spider-Man" musical on Broadway enjoyed a strong second straight week at the box office, leaving the two lead producers cautiously optimistic about the show's strength.  

"Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark" took in $1.7 million for the week ending Sunday, a little below its $1.9 million potential but well above the $1.2 million the producers have indicated they need to reach to stay viable.  

 "So far, so good," said Michael Cohl, who, together with Jeremiah J. Harris, is the lead producer of the $75 million musical that was retooled in April after a fitful launch in November.  

The latest numbers, released Monday by The Broadway League, show the comic book musical was the third-highest-grossing show on Broadway after "Wicked" ($1.83 million) and "The Lion King" ($1.74 million).  

It even beat the nine-time Tony Award-winning musical "The Book of Mormon," which took in $1.2 million. Even so, "The Book of Mormon," in the much smaller 1,000-seat Eugene O'Neill Theatre, fetched a higher average ticket price of $138.90 than "Spider-Man," which is housed in the massive 1,900-seat Foxwoods Theatre, and had an average ticket price of $110.20.  

"Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark," which finally opened officially on June 14, saw its numbers improve over its first week, in which it pulled in nearly $1.28 million over eight shows. Both weeks have had full houses.  

Despite the good news, neither Cohl nor Harris were willing speculate about the show's future or how long they think it will take to recoup its investment. They said they'll make any decision in the fall.  

Cohl said that last week's numbers could have been even better without the promotions and discounts that had been promised months ago, which combined to drag down the show's total gross. He would not say if producers plan any future discounting.  

"We have an audience-pleaser," he said. "The audience has responded."  

Julie Taymor, the Tony Award-winning co-writer and director, was fired in March after delays, accidents, poor audience reaction and money woes turned the musical into a punch line.  

Co-book writer Glenn Berger and newly hired playwright Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, who has written comic books and for the HBO series "Big Love," toned down the story's darker themes, and expanded the romantic angle between Peter Parker and Mary Jane. The songs, by U2's Bono and The Edge, were edited.  

Reviews by professional critics were still generally poor, though they acknowledged improvement over the earlier version. Harris said the show's best selling point is making young people excited to go to the theater and having a show that the whole family can enjoy.  

"While we've gotten all beat-up over how it's not `Next to Normal' or whatever, not everybody's in that market," he said, referring to the musical that explores mental illness and its effect on the dynamics of one family. "Ultimately, it's up to the audience."   

 (Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)

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